After the horrible events that unfolded this past week at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, if you work with children at all, you begin to question their security. Churches present an interesting situation because they are open to the public and all ages are welcomed. In churches, we not only have to secure children from the inside of our organization by performing background checks on our workers and establishing policies that will help prevent incidents from happening, but we also must secure them from outside threats. Here are 3 no-cost ways to make your children’s ministry more secure.
1. Assemble a security team.
A security team is your first line of defense for not only your children’s ministry, but your entire church. These people are in charge of tasks such as locking down the premises once events have started, making “rounds” to check for anyone roaming through buildings (especially in areas they should not be), and communicating to others should some type of altercation present itself. A security team can also be trained to respond in first-aid situations. The size of your security team will depend upon the size of your congregation and facility, but you should have no less than 2 people.
If you are looking to establish a security team, consider anyone in your church who is involved in law enforcement and/or paramedics. People who work in those environments for a living will already have necessary training and will be able to better equip others to respond. If you do not have any police officers or paramedics in your church, be sure the people on your team are physically and mentally fit to react, should a situation occur. If possible, contact a police officer and/or a paramedic to come to your church and meet with your security team to provide some type of response training. CPR and AED training should also be recommended.
2. Establish some form of communication during events.
Your leaders must know if a situation is happening in order to respond. Think through your communication during your children’s ministry events. It most likely is not going to be practical for you to visit each classroom/area yourself and notify them if an emergency situation occurs. You must create a form of emergency communication. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways (through a security team, specified leaders as messengers, walkie-talkies, intercom system, etc.). You must look at the layout of your church building to determine what will work best for you, but some form of communication should be required, regardless of how small or large your building is.
3. Prepare your leaders to respond in these type of situations.
Your children’s ministry leaders must understand how to respond, should a situation occur. Children have fire drills, earthquake drills, and lock-down drills in schools. Churches should not be an exception for preparation. Consider holding a meeting with all of your leaders and going through emergency procedures. Have them take the first 5 minutes of class time to practice the responses with the children.
So does your church have some form of security for the children’s ministry? What steps have you taken to prepare for a crisis situation? Share your thoughts/comments in the comment section!